Thursday, June 30, 2011

Historical Movie-time: The First "Alice in Wonderland", 1903

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Susan reporting:

As many of you know, Loretta and I just returned from a frantic (but fun) short trip to New York in connection with the Romance Writers of America annual conference. For solitary writers from the hinterlands, NYC is a perpetual Wonderland, which is why this clip seems particularly appropriate for us today.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has inspired numerous interpretations since it first was published in 1865, from Disney cartoons to music videos to the most recent dizzying movie by director Tim Burton. But in 1903, less that forty years after the book was written, two pioneering filmmakers – Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow - used the still-new medium to create the first Alice in Wonderland, the longest film (12 minutes and 800 feet!) produced at the time in Britain.

The film has recently been restored by the BFI National Archive from a badly deteriorated original. The damage is still apparent. But with its elaborate costumes and a few exciting special effects, the short, silent film has a magical power and dreaminess that the later, more elaborate ones can't match. This clip features the highlights; here's the link to the complete film, plus more information about the film.


Juliette said...

That's beautiful, thank you for posting it! I love the way the Cheshire Cat is played by an actual cat!

Sophia said...

This is going to give me nightmares, but in a good way. Really amazing.

Anonymous said...

The saddest part was reading on one of the links that all the other films by this company were destroyed when they went bankrupt, and the films were sold for their silver-how awful! So glad this one was preserved. What a treasure.

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